Gender-based violence complaints hit 87,000 so far in lockdown, as cop arrested for allegedly raping wife

Bheki Cele says the police have been inundated with complaints about domestic violence. For breaking the lockdown regulations, 17,209 people had been arrested, mostly in the Western Cape.
Bheki Cele says the police have been inundated with complaints about domestic violence. For breaking the lockdown regulations, 17,209 people had been arrested, mostly in the Western Cape.
Image: Esa Alexander

Police minister Bheki Cele on Thursday confirmed that seven days into lockdown, police had received more than 87,000 gender-based violence complaints.

Addressing journalists on Thursday evening, Cele said the police would enforce the revised regulations as signed and gazetted by co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

“It’s serious, no doubt about it. If I’m not mistaken, the last number we received is that 87,000 people have phoned to report gender-based violence in the household.

“There’s one case that I want to make here, of one police [officer] that has been charged for rape. What is not said is that he is a husband of the victim and she opened the case. He has been arrested,” Cele said.

The police ministry on Friday disclosed that the Western Cape and Free State had recorded the most arrests of lockdown offenders.

“What has been a dampener since the beginning of the lockdown has been the consistently high number of people arrested for violating the lockdown regulations,” Cele said, citing 2,298 arrests just on March 30. By close of business on March 31, the total sum of arrests had reached more than 17,000 since the lockdown started.

Later on Friday, police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters said that over 2,000 people arrested for violation of lockdown laws had been released on warning.

Peters said 125 people had been granted bail, while 7,450 had been issued with fines.

Those released on warning are expected to appear in court.

The number of summons issued by courts was 16, Peters said.

Provincial breakdown of total arrests:

  • Gauteng - 1,888
  • Western Cape - 4,769
  • KwaZulu-Natal - 1,845
  • Eastern Cape - 1,613
  • Northern Cape - 832
  • North West - 1,562
  • Free State - 3,098
  • Mpumalanga - 752
  • Limpopo - 850
  • TOTAL - 17,209

Offences vary from transport- and liquor-related offences to  general non-compliance with the regulations.

“Ideally,” said Cele, “we would prefer that our communities and all stakeholders co-operate and comply to minimise the risk of exposure of both themselves and our 24,389 law-enforcement members to Covid-19. We really do not want to arrest people but to contain the spread of the virus.”

On the issue of spaza shops, the ministry said an instruction would be issued to law- enforcement agencies to understand that all spaza shops and informal food traders with the necessary permits from the relevant municipality would be allowed to operate.

With the second weekend of the lockdown around the corner, Cele also contextualised the relaxation of the regulations as far as movement between provinces and travelling to and from funerals is concerned.

“We have been inundated with volumes of calls from families seeking clarification or intervention or sometimes even permits relating to travelling to the funerals of their loved ones. Most such calls came from the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape and two particular police stations mentioned were Aberdeen and Aliwal North,” said Cele.

In terms of police harassment of civilians, Cele said in the first three days of lockdown he received 26 complaints, but he has since received a further 12, “which means they are stabilising. We urge South Africans to respect the law,” he said.

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